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Why Isotopes have different Physical Properties?

  • Last Updated : 26 Oct, 2021

The atom is divided into two parts: the atomic structure and the extra nucleus. Positively charged protons and neutral neutrons make up the atomic structure. Electrons in the extra nucleus are negatively charged. Atoms, like all elements and compounds, have mass. Because of protons, the mass of an atom is primarily concentrated in its nucleus. When compared to electrons and neutrons, protons have the most mass.

Hydrogen is the lightest element, with one proton surrounded by one electron in the nucleus of a hydrogen atom. Every atom’s nucleus contains a fixed number of protons, which attract the same number of electrons, and the atom becomes electrically neutral. Ions can be formed by either adding or subtracting electrons from an atom.

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The smallest unit of an element is an atom, which is made up of a compact, positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons.



What are Isotopes?

The term isotope primarily refers to variations in an element’s atomic mass or weight. It is also defined as variants of a specific element that have the same number of protons but differ in the number of neutrons in the atom.

Elemental isotopes typically have different masses due to unequal numbers of neutrons. Elements with odd atomic numbers typically have one or two stable isotopes, whereas elements with even atomic numbers typically have three or more stable isotopes. There are some exceptions, such as carbon, helium, and beryllium. An isotope is typically identified or denoted by the name of the specific element at the beginning, followed by a hyphen and the mass number.

Physical and Chemical Properties of Isotopes

When it comes to the chemical properties of isotopes of a given element, they are nearly identical or identical. The chemical properties of different isotopes are nearly identical. However, the physical properties of isotopes such as mass, melting or boiling point, density, and freezing point are all different. The physical properties of any isotope are primarily determined by its mass. Knowing the differences allows us to tell one isotope from another.

Types of Isotopes

Isotopes can be classified as either stable or radioactive. 

  1. As a result, radioactive isotopes are frequently referred to as radioisotopes or radionuclides.
  2. Isotopes that do not decay radioactively are known as stable isotopes or stable nuclides.

According to the findings, there are approximately 339 naturally occurring nuclides or isotopes on the planet. In this, 286 are said to be primordial nuclides, which are thought to have existed since the Solar System’s formation.

Examples of Isotopes

  • The most common examples are hydrogen and carbon isotopes. When it comes to the element Hydrogen, it has three stable isotopes: protium, deuterium, and tritium. These isotopes have the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons, with protium having zero, deuterium having one, and tritium having two.
  • When we look at carbon, we can see that it has three isotopes: carbon-12, carbon-13, and carbon-14. The atomic masses of the isotopes are represented by the numbers 12, 13, and 14. Carbon-12 is a stable isotope in this context, whereas carbon-14 is mostly a radioactive isotope.

Why Isotopes have different Physical Properties?

  1. As isotopes of an element have the same number of electrons as an atom of that element due to the same chemical properties, they have similar chemical properties. 
  2. They do, however, have a different number of neutrons, which affects their mass number. Isotopes contain the same number of protons but differ in the number of neutrons. 
  3. Isotopes are chemical element variants that differ in neutron number, despite the fact that all isotopes of a given element have the same number of protons in each atom. 
  4. As a result, their physical properties differ.

Sample Questions

Question 1: Isotopes were discovered by whom?



Answer:

Frederick Soddy introduced the concept of isotopes in 1913, while explaining the aspects of radioactivity. Thomson discovered the first stable isotope of neon.

Question 2: Define isotope.

Answer:

The term isotope primarily refers to variations in an element’s atomic mass or weight. Variants of a single element with the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons in the atom are also known as isotopes.

Question 3: What are the physical and chemical properties of isotopes?

Answer:

When it comes to the chemical properties of isotopes of a given element, they are nearly identical or identical. Chemical properties of different isotopes are nearly identical. However, physical properties of isotopes such as mass, melting or boiling point, density, and freezing point are all different. The physical properties of any isotope are primarily determined by its mass. Knowing the differences allows us to tell one isotope from another.

Question 4: What are the natural isotopes?

Answer:

Isotopes are atoms with different masses of the same element. These different masses are obtained by having different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei. They are, however, the same type of atom because their nuclei contain the same number of protons.

Question 5: What causes an isotope?

Answer:

Isotopes are atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons. Many elements are made up of one or more radioactive isotopes. These are known as radioisotopes. Their nuclei are unstable, deteriorating or decaying and emitting radiation.

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